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Afghan Sikhs

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Waheguru ji ka Khalsa, Waheguru ji ki fateh.

Im quite interested in the social and religous history of the afghani sikhs but it is difficult to find any information on them. Can you recommend any articles, litterature on the subject ?

Please share whatever you have in this thread

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Pictures from Afghanistan









Afghan Sikhs shout slogans during a protest in Kabul September 17, 2007. Around 100 angry Afghan Sikhs carried a coffin to the United Nations headquarters in Kabul on Monday, accusing Muslims of stopping them cremating the dead man.


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i have met a few afghan sikhs. they were cloth merchants in kabul. they spoke punjabi in lehndi dialect what we in sometimes call jaangli ie jungli. panjabi cos of they way they speak. farsi and pashtu are both major languages in afghanistan so no surprise they spoke those fluently as well.

to get an idea of the way they spoke panjabi, if you go to channel kbc on sky 836, when they speak panjabi its the same as that. I think it may be also refered to as pothohari.

anyway back to afghanistan it is so sad what has happened to the centuries of sikhi in afghanistan. dont think it will ever return to normal for the Sikhs to want to go back there in the numbers they were.

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I spoke to some Afghan sikhs in southall recently.

Coming here as refugees, I asked them if they want to return and (suprisingly) THEY Have no attachment to their home country. "Whatever has happened, has happend. why look back. Afghanistan doesn't exist for us anymore. This is home (UK)"

Considering they have been here since after 2001 they have done quite well for themselves, finAncially. they own half the businesses on Southall broadway, drive big cars, have attractive wives. Also from what i have been told they really put the Panjabi Sikhs to shame when it comes to partying ,eating and drinking!

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I heard it is the other way around. That they are the ones who are most strict in rehit ?

I found an afghan sikh group on facebook where they discussed identity and the social affairs of afghans. It seems that they do not care much about education and most settle with standard jobs. Also most of them feel proud of being afghan but also feel some sort of connection to india..

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"Considering they have been here since after 2001 they have done quite well for themselves, finAncially. they own half the businesses on Southall broadway, drive big cars, have attractive wives. Also from what i have been told they really put the Panjabi Sikhs to shame when it comes to partying ,eating and drinking!"

My personal observational citeria for success is a little different, I find them to be extremely hard working and devoted Gursikhs - doing a lot of seva at the Gurdwarai they attend. They are also generally very traditional in family life.... I am happy they have opened up their own little Gurdwara in Kingston now... they still attend the other Gurdwara in SW London to do seva though...

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The Afghani Sikhs first arrived in UK around 1996 but the majority seem to have arrived since 2001. I agree with JB that most do not have any strong feelings about going back to Afghanistan. They have made good lives from themselves so why would they want to return to a shythole like Afghanistan where even the Muslims don't know when they will will get blown up in a suicide bomb attack. These people have probably been one of the most successful immigrants similar to the Jews and Ugandan Asians. When they originally arrived in the UK they were housed in the council estates but most now either own their own houses or rent in the private sector and not a burden on the state like other refugees like Somalis.

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This is great to hear. Please keep posting if you know anything.

In one of the articles on human rights in afghanistan it says that 50 years ago there were some 50.000 sikhs in Afghanistan and now there are around 1000.. its a real shame that this historic sangat is vanishing from the map.. i wish there was something you could do..

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Sikhs struggle in Afghanistan

By Sanjoy Majumder

BBC News Online correspondent in Kabul

Nearly two years after the fall of the Taleban, Afghanistan's Sikh community is once again trying to establish itself.

Service at Dharamsal

Sikhs and Hindus share the Dharamsal temple

The Sikhs were first brought to Afghanistan by the British in the 19th century and once dominated the Afghan economy.

But since then they have seen their fortunes fade, especially during the civil war in the 1990s which was followed by the rule of the Taleban.

Several thousand Sikhs, who are mostly Pashto-speaking Afghan nationals, reside in the Afghan capital Kabul and the cities of Jalalabad, Ghazni and the former Taleban stronghold of Kandahar.

Fleeing community

In a narrow lane in a dusty Kabul neighbourhood, hundreds of Sikhs and a few Hindus gather every Sunday for prayers at a shared temple, known as Dharamsal.

Preet Singh

Preet Singh - took part in the election of President Karzai

This is Karte Parwan, the main Sikh-Hindu area in the capital, where most of the community live.

Rajinder Singh is head of the temple trust.

"This temple was built 45 years ago during the rule of King Zahir Shah," he says.

"At that time we had no place to pray or hold ceremonies. But the king granted us permission to hold special prayers at this site to commemorate births and deaths."

The Sikhs along with the Hindus had at one time controlled the currency markets in the main cities.

But all that changed with the advent of the mujahideen fighters who overthrew the Soviet regime and then the arrival of the Taleban.

"The overthrow of Najibullah's regime in 1992 and the fighting between the warlords hurt us very badly," Mr Singh says.

"The constant violence forced many Sikhs to flee, mostly to India, some to Pakistan."

Yellow tags

Just over 100 Sikh families stayed on in Kabul.

We were made painfully aware of the fact that we were minorities

Inder Singh Majboor

They were forced to pay the price for events taking place miles away at Ayodhya.

"When the Babri mosque was demolished in India in 1992 the mujahideen burned down our temple in retaliation," says Mr Singh.

Things got worse during Taleban rule.

In a controversial move, the Taleban forced Hindus and Sikhs to wear distinctive yellow tags and ordered Hindu and Sikh women to be veiled.

Inder Singh Majboor, who owns a small shop outside the temple, remembers it as a difficult time.

"We were frightened by the order. Even though we were allowed to continue praying and holding ceremonies, we were made painfully aware of the fact that we were minorities," Mr Majboor says.

New problems

The fall of the Taleban and the formation of a new Afghan Government has seen many Sikhs return to what they consider to be their homeland and the strength of the community in Kabul has grown to about 360 families.

Gurcharan Singh

Gurcharan Singh had to pay a bribe to get his shops back

Some like Preet Singh were invited to take part in the Loya Jirga (Grand Assembly) of tribal chieftains which elected Hamid Karzai as the new president.

Many others have returned elsewhere.

But those who have returned are confronted with fresh problems.

Most of them find their property in ruins or, in many cases, seized.

Gurcharan Singh's family has been living in Kabul for three generations where they worked as traders and businessmen.

He returned to Kabul last year after 10 years to discover that his shops and home had been captured by warlords.

"For the past year I've been running from pillar to post to try and get my property back," Gurcharan Singh says.

"I've finally agreed to pay a hefty bribe and will hopefully get my shops and home back."

Cremation controversy

Almost all the Sikhs here face this problem. There are very few people who are lucky to be living in their own house.

The Sikhs face another, urgent problem.

President Hamid Karzai with Afghan Sikhs

The new government urges Sikhs to play a more active role

For months now, they have been denied access to their cremation ground.

"We have not been able to use the ground which has been in our possession for over a hundred years," says Gurcharan Singh.

"Three days ago a Sikh woman died and we had to send her body to Pakistan for cremation."

Afghan Religious Affairs Minister Nasir Yar says the government is aware of the problem and is doing something about it.

"Their cremation ground was occupied by some irresponsible people - we are taking this matter very seriously and a delegation has been dispatched and will report back to me," Mr Yar said.

But this is of little comfort to the Sikh community.

"We need access to it immediately," says Rajinder Singh.

"The Hindus and Sikhs of Afghanistan still face tremendous problems. Although the whole country is trying to recover from the years of war, it appears that no one is thinking of us."

In the fading light of twilight, the Sikhs of Karte Parwan down their shutters and head home.

A proud community who consider themselves Afghans, they may soon be able to cremate their dead.

But clearly there is a lot to be done before they can rebuild their lives.

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